The Iranian government has prioritized the development of coal-fired power plants in the country, said an official with Iran Power Development Company (IPDC).
Mostafa Ali-Rabbani added that a host of countries, including China, Japan, the US, Russia and some European and African states, are generating electricity using coal.
"However, due to the presence of abundant gas resources in Iran and consumption of fossil fuels in power plants, the country has not paid due attention to burning coal for power generation," he noted.
Ali-Rabbani added that in the past few years, in view of an increase in fuel prices and the fact that they can be exported easily, the Vice-Presidency for Strategic Planning and Supervision has decided to include coal in the country's energy basket.
The official noted that after conducting feasibility studies in Tabas in South Khorasan province, over 1b tons of coal reserves have been discovered in the region.
"At present, two 325-megawatt power plants are under construction in Tabas. Hopefully, with the construction of the power plants and indigenization of the technology for building such plants, the country will gradually increase the number of such power plants," he said.
Ali-Rabbani also said that in countries where coal power plants are located in cities, pollution reduction equipment are installed in power plants to keep the air clean.
"Although Tabas Power Plant is being constructed in Tabas Desert, we plan to install pollution-reduction systems in it," he said.
Ali-Rabbani said generation of each kilowatt-hour of electricity from gas costs about 12 cents, adding that this is while using coal for power generation decreases the figure by 7 cents.
"MAPNA Group is responsible for supplying the plant's main equipment," he said, noting that the project has progressed by 25 percent.